Sydney Roosters player Shaun Kenny-Dowall has been found not guilty of charges that included assault, damaging property, stalking and using a carriage service to offend.
The charges were brought against Kenny-Dowall in July 2015 after allegations were leveled against him by his ex partner. Magistrate Gregory Grogin found Kenny-Dowall not guilty on all charges.
This is a really sad and scary situation to have to write about. I’ve been following the media reports of this case and at times the matters being reported by the media have been very personal and in some cases, shocking to read.
I don’t want to talk too much about this specific case. The court has made a ruling and that is all ANYONE can go by. Shaun Kenny-Dowall had his day in court, it obviously took a massive toll on him, and in the end he was vindicated by a court of law.
The reality is, it doesn’t end there though…
Unfortunately with allegations like this, mud sticks. In an ideal world a not guilty verdict would be the end of it. Sadly for Kenny-Dowall his reputation has been smashed by these allegations and no court ruling will be able to fix that.
Put yourself in his shoes. An allegation was made and immediately thousands upon thousands of strangers he doesn’t even know decided he was guilty. They didn’t wait for the court case to be decided. They didn’t need to see any evidence. Hell, even after being cleared by the legal system there will no doubt be people saying “I think he did it anyway”.
How does anyone overcome that?
Getting back to Rugby League, this is the grey area that the game can’t really say it has the right answer for. If an allegation is leveled against a player the public demands an instant fix. If the NRL waits for the legal system to do its job it can find itself in a position where someone is found guilty and they have been allowed to reap the benefits of playing the game for the previous six months before being found guilty in court. That is far from ideal.
On the flip side you have someone like Shaun Kenny-Dowall who you could suspend immediately, who then loses 6 months of his career, and is found not guilty. That outcome is simply terrible for someone that is innocent of all charges as Kenny-Dowall has been found.
There is no right way to go about this for the game. In todays reactionary society where people demand instant gratification by seeing instant results on subjects they barely care about, there is no way the game can protect a player who is innocent until proven guilty, while at the same time satisfying the public that everything is being done to make sure the game protects the values its supporters hold the game to.
It is a really sad situation to see unfolding, and it is one that people within the game no doubt will be taking very seriously right now.
I’ve said before that any player found guilty of domestic violence charges should never play in the NRL again. I don’t want people like that being looked up to by kids, being put on posters, being able to cash in by playing a game that supposedly values the community that adores it. The other side of that argument is what we have seen played out in court today.
There are no benefits held for people that have been wrongly accused. Anyone that supports Kenny-Dowall after this verdict will not get any accolades. The people that attacked Kenny-Dowall before his day in court will not apologise now the he has been found not guilty.
If you think that this is the end of this terrible moment in Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s life, you are sadly mistaken. He will continue to have to live with this for a very long time.
I hope that Shaun Kenny-Dowall has good people around him. I hope he gets the support he deserves. I hope he can move forward from this. I hope he can find strength having gone through this, and that in the long run he feels like a better, stronger person.
I’m not one for Rugby League redemption stories. I think in a lot cases the game embraces people who don’t deserve it. This is different though. I hope that Shaun Kenny-Dowall reaches even greater heights as a person, and as a player, after having gone through all of this.
Rugby League players are not characters, they are real people. It is very easy for the public to lose sight of that.
Right now a 28 year old young man is still processing what he has been through over the last 8 months. He hasn’t even begun to think about how he gets his life back together.
I hope the journey that lies ahead of him is as easy as it can be. Shaun Kenny-Dowall deserves that.